THE BLOG
01/26/2015 01:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Must-Read Books for Overwhelmed Stepmoms

2015-01-25-overwhelmedstepmom.png

Are you married to a man with kids from a previous relationship? I bet you never thought how hard being a stepmom is. In the rush of love, when you see the world through gorgeous love goggles, no one tells you that you're going to want to ran away or find a place to hide when his kids are visiting.

Whether you are a new or veteran stepmom, you know that the marriage statistics for second marriages are stacked against remarried couples. The odds of success plummet even further with third marriages.

The good news is you're not alone. There are amazing resources and I want to share with you the six books every overwhelmed stepmom must read.

A Career Girl's Guide to Becoming a Stepmom by Jacquelyn Fletcher

So he proposed! I'm so excited for you. I know what it feels like to have the man of your dreams get down on one knee and propose in the most romantic way and it's the moment you've dreamed of. It's the moment Lifetime TV makes movies about.

Except... you've just said YES to a man with kids from a previous marriage. Now what do you do?

I don't want to scare you from marrying the love of your life -- there's so much hope and possibility! Fletcher's book has been one of my top recommendations for single career women who just happen to fall madly in love with a man, his kids, and his ex-tended family.

Fletcher touches on subjects that are all too often not spoken about -- money, discipline, privacy, and your sense of grief as you say good-bye to one life and hello to another. I strongly encourage every career girl turned stepmom to add this book to your reading list.

StepCoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today's Blended Family by Susan Wisdom

This invaluable resource is packed with information, tips, and strategies based on Wisdom's own StepCoupling experience and her counseling services for divorcing couples and step-families.

StepCoupling revolves around two major ideas:

  • The eventual success of the new family hinges on the quality and strength of the step-couple's relationship.
  • The success of the stepcouple hinges on the willingness and ability of the partners to grapple with personal and family issues.

Read this book with your sweetheart. It could very well save your relationship or become the go-to resource anytime either of you forgets that your relationship must take priority if you want your relationship to flourish and your marriage to succeed.

Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do by Wednesday Martin

Stepmonster is a go-to resource for any stepmom who's experienced anger, resentment, or jealousy when it comes to her husband's kids or his ex-wife.  Martin's research is impeccable and eye-opening.

From the beginning, Martin tackles the stepmother script and the realities of becoming a stepmother. Martin's writing is refreshing and honest. She's upfront when she states, "nobody wants a stepmother and nobody wants to be a stepmother."

Martin exposes the gory guts of the truth the rest of society would rather ignore: stepmoms and stepkids have one thing in common besides loving the same guy. Between them, there is a "mutual lack of choosing." In fact, Martin writes "stepkids are as unessential to stepmoms as stepmoms are to them.

According Martin, the more successful stepmothers focused on nurturing and building "an intimate, fulfilling relationship with their husbands and to take better care of their own needs" rather than trying to "bond with or win the approval of their stepchildren."

The Happy Stepmother by Rachelle Katz

If you're feeling overwhelmed and burned out from all things stepmom, Rachelle Katz' book, The Happy Stepmother, will come to your rescue. Katz zeros in on what you can do about all the added pressure that comes from being a stepmother.

Not one to hold back, Katz shoots straight from her heart as she explains in the introduction her most important realization about being a stepmother: "I was choosing to sacrifice my time and energy to make others happy before taking care of myself."

If you just sucked in your breath, exhale.

Does this sound like you? Are you choosing to sacrifice yourself to make others happy? Are you walking on eggshells hoping to not rock the stepfamily boat?

If this is you, then The Happy Stepmother is your cure.

Skirts at War: Beyond Divorce Mom / Stepmom Conflict by Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Jenna Korf

Newcomb Marine and Korf tackle the major challenges that plague "divorce connected" families. They also confront the tricky mind stuff that nearly every divorced mom and stepmom find themselves stuck in.

Let's face it, young girls don't think, imagine, or fantasize about becoming a divorced mom or stepmom when they grow up. However, with 1,300 stepfamilies being created every day, there are a lot of divorced moms and stepmoms navigating a "new normal." Interestingly enough both groups of woman face the same challenging issues but from completely different perspectives.

According to Newcomb Marine and Korf, "divorced moms and stepmoms are often oblivious to their biggest problems with each other:

  • Dual-household relationships trigger our deepest fears
  • Clashing instincts are confusing and wreak havoc upon our psyches
  • Our "emotional authority" prevents us from recognizing any interpretation of reality that differs from our own."

If you find that you and your husband are arguing about his ex-wife nearly all of the time, this book is a must read.

The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail by Maggie Scarf

With all the complications and confusion that StepLife brings, do you ever wonder if your marriage will succeed or fail?

The Remarriage Blueprint is based on Scarf's interviews with remarried couples between 1997 and 2011 as well as research from Dr. Patricia Papernow's Architectural Model for Stepfamilies.

Maggie Scarf has written a thoughtful and superb book for remarried couples. As you read through the pages, you may find yourself identifying with one or more of the couples Scarf interviewed. Make note of the pitfalls that tore a few of the couples apart and pay attention to the success factors that continue to keep the rest of the couples together.

You can read full reviews of each book in the 2014 back issues of StepMom Magazine

***
Peggy Nolan is a sacred bad-ass warrior, vanquisher of fear, slayer of doubt and she loves helping others move forward. She's the mother of two adult chlidren, stepmother to four adult children, and grandmother of two (with two more on the way.) She's the former host of The Stepmom's Toolbox Radio Show. Peggy lives in Derry, NH with her husband, Richard.

If you liked this article and would like to live a happier. less stressed life, download Peggy's free eBook, "30 Ways to Boost Your Positivity and Increase Your Happiness."